Is There Hope for America?
By Dave Butts
It was a vote that was heard in heaven. Party platform wordings at political conventions rarely garner much attention. But at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, an amendment was raised to exclude God in the Democratic platform, and it received as many “no” voice votes as “ayes.” After three attempts at passing this by voice vote, Convention Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ruled that the amendment passed, regardless of the large group of delegates who objected. Had God just been voted out of a major national party?
Don’t take this as an attack on Democrats. That vote was just a visible expression of the rapid secularization of America in virtually every aspect of our national life. What began slowly in the 1960’s with the removal of prayer from public schools has picked up speed through the decades and has now accelerated beyond what most thought possible. Christians, and others who hold to more traditional values, often feel like we’re living in a different country than we were before.
Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. Those who are undergoing sex-change operations and therapy are considered heroes. Opponents are considered haters and bigots. Disagreement is not allowed. What God says in His Word is not in the equation.
A mother’s womb is still one of the most dangerous places for a child since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 (Roe vs. Wade) that women have the right to an abortion. Between 1973 and the beginning of 2016 more than 58 million children have been denied the right to birth. And now the Affordable Care Act is beginning to use government powers to force companies to provide the finances for abortions for employees and families, even when owners of those companies are morally opposed.
Terrorism that springs from a radical view of Islam touched our nation deeply on Sept.11, 2001. The resulting war in Iraq cost thousands of American lives and we still face the growing threat of ISIS at home and abroad. This, combined with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, has created an environment of fear and uncertainty in our country.
Racial division has been a problem for many years, but it seems to have re-emerged as a flashpoint for violence and hatred. The war on poverty and the war on drugs are wars we have lost. Wars cannot be won when we don’t know who the enemy is.
I could continue but I won’t. The point is made. We are living in tough times. It’s hard to know who to trust or turn to for help. Political candidates and parties make promises and break them before the end of an election cycle.
The great danger for us now is that we will lose hope. Many Christians are pretty much convinced that we’re living in the last days and we can’t do anything about what is happening. No hope for change. I should say in all honesty, that I, too, believe that we are living in the last days. But I also have great hope. Not just for the coming of Jesus but for His followers bringing about change on this planet and specifically, in the United States.
Christian author and speaker Dutch Sheets shares that optimism in a recent blog post:
"Some Christian leaders teach, usually from theological influences, that America will not awaken, turn back to God and recapture her spiritual destiny. Their eschatology doesn’t allow for a 'comeback;' for them, the apostasy must continue to worsen.
"Many secular leaders also contend, often with an ideological fervor fueled by their personal desires, that this rebirth will never occur. 'America has progressed too far,' they assert with smug satisfaction, 'having left behind its antiquated, Puritanistic ideals and outdated beliefs.' These naysayers are, indeed, correct when they euphorically and gloatingly bloviate about how far we as a nation have drifted from our original beliefs. Secularists and humanists are accurate when they condescendingly point out our moral shifts toward relativism and unbiblical values. With satisfied arrogance, these modernists gleefully vociferate that our government no longer sees itself under and accountable to an 'imaginary' Creator, or even to an 'outdated' Constitution He supposedly inspired.
"With such a dire diagnosis, why, then, am I not hopeless? To the contrary, I have great hope for America because the depth of a fall never determines God’s ability to restore. I’m not afraid of the powerful strongholds because size and strength are completely irrelevant when measuring His ability to deliver. And I’m not intimidated because statistical odds, whether of success or failure, cease to be relevant when God is involved. His limitless ability negates the very concept of odds and trumps all other winning hands.
"Don’t embrace any theology or creed that allows God to lose!
I have hope, and I’m dreaming. I dream of a reborn America that is once again a shining light to the rest of the world. I believe this dream was born in God’s heart, embedded in a small group of emigrant pilgrims, and is one I am confident He still maintains. Join me as I dream. Partner with the 'superintending providence' that was active in our founding, is involved with our present, and has great plans for our future.
"Let it be said of our generation that when a nation teetered on the edge of destruction, having lost the ancient path of truth, we answered the divine call to war for its restoration. Let it be said of us, as it was of our forefathers, that in the face of overwhelming odds, we took our stand in the celestial courtroom, appealing to the Judge of all the earth for His saving grace, mercy, and sustaining power." –Dutch Sheets, blog, June 16, 2015
Thank you Dutch, for igniting a fire in many Christians regarding hope for the future. Without that hope, we will never give ourselves to prayer for our nation. The defeatist mentality, that says the best days of the United States are in the past, will not have the courage to pick up the weapon of intense intercession needed to face the challenges of our day.
The Need for Hope
Hope-filled biblical focus is needed if we are to see a movement of prayer that moves the hand of God regarding the United States. Christians need to believe that God is not done with our nation and begin praying with passion according to the purposes of God. The focus of our hope must be in God and His Word.
If we look to our politicians, we will not have hope. If we look to our culture, we will lose our hope. If the economy is where we are placing out trust, hope will be lost with every downturn. Our hope must be in the Lord!
Scripture is filled the command to hope in the Lord. Many times, that is directed to an individual for their own salvation. Sometimes though, it is directed to a nation. The Psalmist speaks to Israel with this powerful word,
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption. (Ps. 130:7, ESV)
In a passage that I believe speaks much to our current situation, the author of Lamentation spends the first part of chapter three bemoaning the horrible situation that he is in. In verse 21 though, his thoughts turn to the mercies of God and he takes hope. Consider this powerful picture:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope” (Lam. 3:21-28 ESV)
Hope comes from a renewed focus on the Lord and his never-ending mercy and love. Lamentations points out the need of remembering that about the Lord (this I call to mind - vs 21). There is also the powerful picture of humility and repentance before the Lord, “let him put his mouth in the dust.”
A people who humbly come before the Lord, remembering His mercy, have great reason for hope.
In that great section of Zechariah 9 that combines promises of both the first and second Coming of Christ, this insightful description is given regarding hope.
“Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” (Zech. 9:12)
Those who await the work of the Lord are called prisoners of hope. That is a good description for the Church today as we long to see the Lord restore and renew His people, and with them, a nation that desperately needs His healing touch. Prisoners of hope never quit praying until the Lord accomplishes His purposes or until He silences their prayers.
Ask the Lord to renew your hope regarding the future of the United States. Pray for a fresh vision of what can happen in this nation as we submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ.
--David Butts. Taken from With One Cry: A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America, (PrayerShop 2016).